Three years ago, I cooked dinner for a boy. It was our sixth date.
It was a great sixth date. I prepared a chicken recipe from my favorite cookbook, Molly Stevens’ The Art of Braising. We watched “Lost” on my apartment sofa. He asked me to be his Valentine’s date (I pretended to be cool and acted like I needed to cancel other plans). He also brought me flowers – totally a keeper.
He told me later that he could not forget me after that night because his jacket smelled like braised chicken and red wine. I had won him over.
For three years, that same boy has been asking me to prepare that dish again.
It was my Valentine’s Day gift to him this year to recreate that special memory. Here it is… the dinner that found me true love, Coq au Vin.
Adapted from Molly Stevens’ The Art of Braising. Please, please go buy her book.
- 1 four pound chicken, cut into eight pieces (ask the butcher nicely and he’ll do it for you)
- 1 diced onion
- 1 carrot, sliced at an angle
- 1/4 lb slab bacon, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 750 ml bottle of red Burgundy wine
- 2 tablespoons cognac (if you have it)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 1 cup flour
- salt, pepper, and a pinch of ground thyme
This is not a “beginner” recipe. Roll up your sleeves and tie that apron tight. Then preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Use a large stock pot to render the fat of the bacon for approximately 15 minutes. The edges should be crispy, but the middle still soft. Set aside on paper towels, leaving the grease in the pot. Reduce the heat to low while you prepare the chicken.
Using a large bag (I used the one from my butcher), mix the eight chicken pieces, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Shake and coat the chicken very well.
My Version of Shake n Bake
Place one tablespoon of butter in the pot with the bacon grease and increase the heat to high. Place the chicken in the pot in small batches to brown the skin, turning occassionally. When the skin is golden and crispy, remove to a separate plate.
Remove browned chicken to a plate
Add the remaining tablespoon or two of butter to the pot and sautee the onions and carrots until the onions are translucent and flecked with brown (4 or 5 minutes). Keep the heat on high and add 2 tablespoons of cognac to deglaze the pan. Stir in the tomato paste. Simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed into the vegetables or evaporated.
When the cognac and tomato paste has reduced, pour in the bottle of Burgundy wine, garlic, bay leaves, tyme, and parsley. Boil until the mixture has reduced to half. (Not shown – it is hard to take a decent picture of a steamy, boiling pot!) Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf before serving. They taste yucky.
After 10 minutes, or until the wine has reduced to half, add the bacon and stir. Place the chicken pieces in the pot in the following order: drumsticks, wings, thighs, then breasts on top. Place the chicken breasts skin side down – you will turn them back over later. Cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
In 15 minutes, remove the pot from the oven and turn the chicken over – skin side up. Place back in the oven for 45 minutes.
I used this time to whip up a lovely appetizer cheese plate, homemade salad with my favorite vinegarette, and mashed potatoes. The wine pictured below is what I used to cook the chicken.
Appetizer cheese plate
When the chicken is done, remove to a separate platter. In her cookbook, Molly recommends a garnish for the chicken, but I prefer the dish without. Serve the chicken on top of mashed potatoes. Some people also prefer buttered noodles for this dish.
What a successful Valentine’s Day Dinner! The house smelled amazing, and the chicken is a real show-stopper.
The proper prenunciation is "Coq au Vah-n"
I will be cooking this dish for years to come, always remembering the first time I prepared it. What a great way to celebrate the time that he and I have spent together.
Try this recipe and let me know what you think. It is incredible!